Meet Sir Chester McFlops-a-Lot III

On Thursday, April 16, someone came into my life who unexpectedly shifted the way I move through my daily life. I thought I was just adopting a rabbit, providing a home for an abandoned bun. (I’m refraining from using the term “rescue” here, as I think it can contribute to the development of a human savior complex toward non-human animals that paints them as victims rather than agents. More in a future blog post.) But after about two weeks of living with him, I’ve come to realize that I’ve gained a teacher, a playmate, a trickster, and a companion. Obviously, this bun’s existence is valuable in and of itself, regardless of what he contributes to my life, but I think it’s important to recognize the impact that non-human animals — whom we much more often than not regard as inferior beings — can have on human lives.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I call him Sir Chester McFlops-a-Lot III (Chester, for short), and I adopted him from a woman who had been fostering him for about a week after finding him cooped up in a small cage in a dark basement, with minimal food an water. Apparently, the owner of said basement (or, more accurately, the house attached to it…) had bought a newborn Chester from a breeder as an Easter gift for her daughter, who “got tired” of Chester after just over two years of living with him. Chester now lives in my very spacious room and loves hopping around, hiding under my bed, munching on hay and lettuce, and getting petted. He’s a super sociable bun with tons of energy, and I’m so happy that he doesn’t have to live in a basement anymore. Moral of the story: please don’t buy bunnies (or any non-human animals, for that matter) as holiday gifts. They are complex beings with their own unique life-worlds who must be regarded as infinitely more than inanimate objects on par with socks and candy, and treated as such.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From sharing my room with Chester, I’ve been able to get out of my own head, to interrupt the obsessive thoughts that can often spiral into destructive tendencies. In providing care for another, I’ve necessarily had to think beyond myself, to disrupt the individualistic habits I’ve long cultivated of work-work-working on an uninterrupted schedule, in the presence of only me, myself, and I. I pause. I pause to sit on the ground with Chester, to clean his cage, to fill his carrot-shaped food bowl with lettuce, to pet his smooth-soft fur from head to tail as he gently grinds his teeth in silent contentedness. After a whirlwind of a day, I’m calmed immediately as I enter my room, greeted by an excited bun, eagerly nudging my heels to request pets and snuggles.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not only has Chester taught me how to more easily occupy a space outside of myself, he has also shown me how to communicate with him, serving as a language professor of sorts. Nipping at my heels means he wants attention; hopping in and out of his cage (which remains open all the time so that Chester can explore my room as he pleases) means he wants more food; sitting with his legs tucked underneath him means that he’s calm and content; flopping onto his back means he’s incredibly happy, and usually happens after I’ve given him pets or he’s had fun ripping up a piece of newspaper; running across my room and leaping into the air means it’s playtime; and so on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

In a recent post, I reflected upon how animal justice activists might support the agency of the non-human beings with whom we seek to act in solidarity by truly listening to them, by learning their language. I think that living with Chester has given me good practice in this area — practice that is forever ongoing and will never be complete, simply by virtue of the fact that I’ve been socialized as a human since childhood — and trust that my internship at Madison’s own Heartland Farm Animal Sanctuary this summer will allow me to continue and expand upon this practice.

Have ya’ll developed a mode of human-animal communication between you and your companion animals? If so, how — if at all– do you think it has improved your ability to act in solidarity with non-human beings? I’d love to hear your stories, perhaps even in a future blog post here at C&C! You can submit your pieces to chickpeasandchange [at] gmail [dot] com, and check out this page for submission guidelines.

Looking for resources on how to be a great bunny companion? Visit the House Rabbit Society’s website.

In solidarity, Ali.

Advertisements

Vegan Chews & Progressive News {9-5-14}

In case you missed the edit to Monday’s post, please hop on over to the top of my “Saffron Cantaloupe Butter | The Importance of Calling Each Other Out” post and check out a very important retraction. Thank you!

Farmers Market Vegan’s “Vegan Chews & Progressive News” series strives to promote artful vegan food and progressive discussion of social issues—both of which prove necessary in fostering a society that prioritizes the well-being of all creatures (not just the rich or the human) over the continuous striving for profit/resource accumulation.

Happy Friday and welcome to your weekly dose of Vegan Chews and Progressive News (#NewsandChews)Today’s recipes feature an original take on the classic kale chip, a delectable interpretation of a quintessential flavor pairing, and a vegan taco bar for a crowd. Turning to news, we’re looking at an enlightening perspective on women’s lack of advancement in the workplace, Hong Kong’s powerful Occupy Central movement, and a book that explores a myriad of problems within the U.S. food system through investigative journalism. Let’s get to it!

Favorite Newly Published Recipe

Savory

Baked Pesto Kale Chips
via Sweet Simple Vegan

Photo via Sweet Simple Vegan.

Photo via Sweet Simple Vegan.

I’ve crafted many a crispy leaf of smoky kale in my time, from rich savory treats coated in cheesy cashew sauce to simply roasted greens coated in coconut oil and smoked paprika. I’ve even coated to-roast kale in hummus, but never before encountering this recipe had I contemplated the same use for pesto. Bound to yield deeply yet brightly flavored kale chip fabulousness, this recipe will certainly enter my repertoire in the very near future.

Sweet

Peanut Butter & Jelly Cookie Bars
via The Honour System

Photo via The Honour System.

Photo via The Honour System.

In my 21-person vegan living cooperative, we devour our fair share of chickpea-based desserts, thanks to our monthly supply of 25-pound sacks of dried chickpeas. Similarly, I’m fairly certain that we consume up to 41% of New York state’s peanut butter supply. This 8-ingredient treat, therefore, proves more than well-suited for the Ferry Haus kitchen and bellies, once again marrying those three letters made for each other: PB & J.

Best Recipe I Made This Week

Ferry Taco Bar with Roasted Chickpeas, Dirty Rice, Crispy Cabbage Slaw, & Salsa
Original Recipe

tacos

Speaking of Ferry Haus, last week I packed up my Brooklyn apartment and completed the short journey to my on-campus cooperative in Poughkeepsie, where this Tuesday I began classes as a junior Geography major at Vassar College. With 21 creative minds – both culinary and otherwise – to fill the kitchen, our nightly communal dinners never fail to wow, surprise, and disappear within minutes. Inspired by the corn tortillas that turned up in our refrigerator, I felt compelled to prepare a summery taco bar for the Haus, complete with smoked paprika-roasted chickpeas, tomato-laden dirty rice with plenty of spices (cumin, oregano, cilantro, Spanish paprika, cayenne), a bright and crunchy cabbage-carrot slaw for contrast, and a canned tomato classic-style salsa with onions, garlic, and jalapeno. Who can argue with veggies, grains, and legumes rolled up in a soft tortilla? Almost as good as a sandwich. 😉

Must-Read News Article

Why Aren’t Women Advancing at Work? Ask a Transgender Person.
via Jessica Nordell at New Republic

Photo via New Republic.

Photo via New Republic.

This eye-opening article from New Republic explores the fact that women advance in the workplace at a much lower rate than men, specifically the notion that this happens because of personal choices or cognitive and emotional characteristics, whether innate or socialized. Through interviews with individuals of trans experience who have remained in the same careers/jobs after their transitions, author Jessica Nordell reveals that individuals experience starkly different treatment in the workplace depending on their gender, even though they’re essentially the exact same person.

To take an example from the article, when a man named Ben still presented as a woman and solved a difficult math problem, his biology professor insisted that “Your boyfriend must have solved it.” However, after Ben’s transition, that same professor – unaware of Ben’s transition – commended his work, commenting that Ben’s work was “so much better than his sister’s.”

A fascinating article that sheds light upon the clear anti-woman bias that still exists in our society of supposed gender equality.

Favorite Podcast Episode or Video

Hong Kong ‘Occupy Central’ Protests Call for Political Freedom After China Rejects Open Elections
via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

Photo via Democracy Now!

In Hong Kong, an outpouring of protestors have united under the name of Occupy Central to oppose the Chinese government’s rejection of demands for Hong Kong to freely choose its next leader in 2017. The oldest global faction in the Occupy movement, Occupy Central has proven its determination through huge numbers of protestors and international recognition, and is currently threatening to blockade the city’s central business district.

I don’t highlight this story to bash the Chinese government, for I don’t feel that it’s my place to do so as a Westerner whose government has its fair share of problems with its democratic leadership. Instead, I seek to act in solidarity with the protestors, who have publicly requested that individuals in the Western world spread the word of their struggle. Additionally, I hope that seeing these powerful protests against an oppressive government will inspire U.S. actors to more actively speak out against our less obviously exploitative system of rule, especially in regards to its regards to its treatment of already marginalized peoples.

Book Recommendation

The American Way of Eating: Undercover at Walmart, Applebee’s, Farm Fields, and the Dinner Table
by Tracie McMillan

Photo via American Way of Eating blog.

Photo via American Way of Eating blog.

In this acclaimed book uncovering a myriad of problems existing within the U.S. food system, award-winning and working-class journalist Tracie McMillan worked undercover in three jobs that feed America, living off of her wages in each. Reporting from California onion and grape fields, the produce aisle of a Walmart just outside of Detroit, and the kitchen of a NYC Applebee’s, McMillan investigates how most folks living in the U.S. eat, while a much smaller group happily spends $9 on organic heirloom tomatoes (guilty as charged). Most insightfully, McMillan explains the national policies (especially their racist dimensions) that lay the groundwork for this “American way of eating.” Though McMillan does not explore the problems within the U.S.’ system of animal agriculture, I think that it proves especially important for vegans to educate ourselves about the non-animal-related issues surrounding our nation’s food, so as not to ignore the plight of farm workers and other individuals exploited in various forms of food service.

In solidarity, Ali.

Tofurky Review & Giveaway

This giveaway has closed!

Perhaps the most ubiquitous of all vegan meat companies is Turtle Island Foods—the 34-year-old, family owned and independent, organic maker of Tofurky. Though maybe the butt of jokes from uncles teasing their vegan nieces and nephews at the Thanksgiving table, various Tofurky products have held their own as hearty, flavorful, and innovative animal-free meats for a good long while. Beyond the traditional holiday roasts that catapulted Tofurky to meatless fame, products that boast the Tofurky name include sandwich-style deli slices of every flavor imaginable, hot dogs and sausages, taco-style crumbles, pot pies and quiches, pizzas, marinated tempeh, and even hot pockets. This company most impressively gives truth to the claim that any food on the face of the planet can be veganized. Even better, the main ingredients found in Tofurky products include vital wheat gluten (the base of seitan), tofu (big surprise there), spices, and other minimally processed, nourishing ingredients.

TT_tshirtlogo

With all of this in mind, I was absolutely thrilled to receive a request from the lovely folks at Turtle Island Foods to review their Tofurky products. After our email correspondence, an absolutely ginormous package stuffed with various Tofurky products arrived at my doorstep. We’re talking multiple boxes of every type of deli slice, marinated tempeh, and gourmet-style sausages. Luckily—seeing as I would have had to eat Tofurky for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in order to finish off all of it—I live in a vegan co-op of 21 ravenous students, all more than happy to partake in the Tofurky goodness.

 And partake they did! On a cold winter evening, one of my housemates and I teamed up to cook for the whole house a huge dinner that featured the Tofurky I was sent to review. The menu included:

–A sandwich bar of deli slices in oven-roasted, peppered, hickory smokes, bologna, Italian, and roast beef styles; Vegenaise; mustard; lettuce; tomatoes, and Ezekiel bread.

 

–A spicy jambalaya inspired by this recipe, featuring the artisan Tofurky Andouille sausages and the smoky maple bacon marinated tempeh.

 

–A sweet sauté of bell peppers, caramelized onions, and artisan Tofurky chick’n and apple sausages.

 

–A tangy coleslaw of green cabbage, shredded carrots, and scallions with a dressing of olive oil, Dijon mustard, tahini, balsamic vinegar, and agave (one of my housemates professed that this coleslaw was the best he had ever tasted!).

 

DSC_4338

 

 

DSC_4352

 

 

DSC_4345DSC_4355

 

 

DSC_4361

 

 

DSC_4372

 

Mind you, even though the co-op in which I live purchases only vegan products as a house, only six of us in the house actually lead vegan lifestyles. Nonetheless, I received nothing but rave reviews of our Tofurky dinner from each and every one of my housemates. They scarfed down the jambalaya and sausage sauté, leaving absolutely none for leftovers and “mmm”-ing through every bit. Even meat-eaters remarked that the dishes proved immensely satisfying, pleasingly textural, and hugely flavorful. Though the dishes made with Tofurky sausages undoubtedly won the night, my housemates also expressed their enthusiasm toward the deli slices. Indeed, one of my most food-particular housemates noted that the bologna-style deli slices harbored exactly the same flavor and texture as animal-based bologna. The only qualm I received regarding the deli slices concerned their slight dryness—though the juicy tomatoes and spreadable condiments at the sandwich bar certainly mitigated that. If any of my housemates held views of Tofurky similar to those of the aforementioned dubious uncle before the dinner, they most definitely found such views shattered after tasting the fabulousness of the products.

 

DSC_4384

DSC_4381

Surprisingly, our grand dinner didn’t use up all of the Tofurky that the generous folks at Turtle Island sent me. You can bet that much fine sandwich-making ensued in the week following our dinner, including my favorite: the tempeh reuben. A magnificent mess of toasted Ezekiel bread, vegan red Russian dressing (using the 2nd version on this page), tangy sauerkraut, crisp lettuce, juicy tomato, and of course smoky maple bacon marinated Tofurky tempeh, this sandwich provides a soul-satisfying way to highlight Tofurky’s fabulous tempeh products.

CIMG7914

And now, dear readers, I’m ecstatic to provide one of you with the chance to sample Tofurky’s impressive product line! One of you who enters the giveaway at the links at the top and bottom of this post will win a prize pack including the following: –Four coupons for one FREE Tofurky product. –Tons of Tofurky coupon booklets. –One vintage-style metal Tofurky lunchbox. –One Tofurky t-shirt.

p_funstuff_lunchbox1

p_tshirt_newtofurkymodel

The giveaway will end at 11:59 p.m. on Friday, March 21, and I will announce the winner on Sunday, March 23. Apologies to my international readers, but you must reside within the U.S. in order to enter this giveaway.

Good luck to all!

This giveaway has closed!

Until next time, Ali.

I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with free product samples. All opinions are completely my own.

Vegan MoFo #25: Teriyaki Veggie Rice, Kale Salad, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Green Beans

vegan mofo 2013

007

Ferry Dinner last night came courtesy of Hannah and Matt—two of the house’s newest members, who have acclimated quite well to the egalitarian, consensus-based, hippie-loving, kale-worshipping, nutritional yeast-devouring Ferry community. Indeed, all of the Ferries who moved into the house at the beginning of this semester have integrated themselves snugly into the Ferry lifestyle, leaving friendly post-it notes on room doors, baking bread, and discussing urgent social issues. The new Ferries, too, have become accustomed to the inner workings of the Ferry Kitchen, in which our entire stock of spoons disappears in the span of a single day and the refrigerator overflows with leafy greens. Last night marked the first Ferry Dinner made by only new house members, and Hannah and Matt ensured the success of this landmark event with a unique, flavorful, and well-crafted meal.

006

The main dish consisted of an Asian-style not-fried rice—more of a pilaf of impeccably cooked brown rice mixed with sautéed carrots, mushrooms, and teriyaki sauce—that boasted a tangy umami flavor. Brussels sprouts and green beans roasted with tamari provided a similarly profiled side dish, while a salad of kale, tomatoes, cucumbers, and bell peppers in a dressing of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and apple cider vinegar offered a fresh, bright accompaniment to the many unctuous flavors in the meal.

004  1

In Vassar news, I recently crafted an infographic for my Cities of the Global South geography class that highlights why radically shifting away from animal agriculture constitutes a necessary step in maximizing global food security and minimizing environmental impact as the world rapidly urbanizes. Many of my courses at Vassar present me with opportunities to incorporate animal/vegan activism into the classroom—a rather unsurprising (yet no less exciting) fact given the college’s largely activist-oriented student body. I become heartened every day as I witness social justice activists from all movements beginning to consider animal rights, and hugely value the immense amount that I continue to learn from the activists surrounding me. Ah, Vassar.

infographic 2

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #24: Balsamic Veggie-Bean Salad, Roasted Brassicas, & Quinoa

vegan mofo 2013

008

Over the course of last semester, I became relatively familiar with each of my Ferry housemate’s individual cooking style: Gabe D. favors casseroles; Alan likes to get fancy with veggie burgers and pizzas; Gabe B-G prefers simple three-part meals of veggie, grain, and protein; Franny serves as Ferry Soup Master; etc. While I appreciate the creativity, skill, and uniqueness of every Ferry cook, I do tend to become particularly excited every two weeks when Eric takes over the kitchen. Sharing a deep adoration of well-seasoned dishes, simply roasted vegetables, and generous amounts of tangy salad dressings, Eric and I jive quite well in terms of our outlook on cooking and what constitutes high-quality food (though Eric carries out the whole “seasoning dishes well” thing much better than I do). Indeed, for Ferry’s house-wide Valentine’s Day gift exchange last year, Eric presented me with a copy of one of his favorite cookbooks—The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen by Peter Berley—and forever solidified our cooking-style solidarity, which revels in fresh, deeply flavored, unpretentious, nourishing, and simple fare.

004 006

Last night, with the help of fellow healthy eating enthusiast Tamsin, Eric produced a dinner perfectly suited for my palate and preferred style of eating. A zippy salad of navy and pinto beans mixed with a medley of tender and finely diced green beans, carrots, and eggplant constituted the highlight of dinner, shining in all of its balsamicky glory. Accompanied by golden brown, impeccably tender, and nicely oiled roasted broccoli and cauliflower, as well as a pot of impressively fluffy quinoa, the salad offered a meal to satisfy my soul as well as my taste buds. Eric and Tamin’s dinner—rife with minimally manipulated fresh veggies, ample seasoning, and a cold composed salad—reminded me quite closely of the meals that my mother and I enjoy preparing together, offering a taste of my Madison home in my Vassar home.

002 007

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #23: Peanut Butter Noodles with Veggies and Beans, Garlicky Green Beans, & Roasted Sweet Potatoes

vegan mofo 2013

Last night’s dinner, artfully prepared by dearest Alan and Rhyston, featured a sumptuous noodle dish inspired by Veganomicon (the inimitable vegan cookbook tome) and two flavorful vegetable sides.

007

Brown rice noodles coated in a creamy peanut sauce and tossed with a mix of navy and pinto beans as well as roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and zucchini provided a savory meld of toasted, caramelized, nutty, and umami flavors—though also one that proved quite difficult to stir, according to Ferry cook extraordinaire Alan. As a one-pot meal, the pasta could have easily constituted dinner all on its own, but Veggie Master Rhyston had other plans…

004

Simple roasted sweet and Yukon gold potatoes with garlic served as one side dish, while tender green beans sautéed with ample amounts of garlic provided the other. I also added a bed of mixed greens to the meal to meet my daily leafy quota. A quite well-executed dinner, I must say.

001

006

In Vassar Animal Rights Coalition (VARC) news, tomorrow marks the onset of my weekend whirlwind of cooking in preparation for Carol Adams’ campus lecture, during which she’ll present her renowned Sexual Politics of Meat Slide Show. After the Slide Show, VARC will host a book signing and vegan reception, featuring the following menu of homemade hors d’oeuvres:

–Crostini with cashew cheese, kale pesto, & heirloom tomatoes.
–Grilled herb-marinated seitan skewers (get excited to hear all about my first experience making seitan).
–Mini sundried tomato, spinach, & mushroom tofu quiches.
–Coconut-peanut butter tartlets with raw date-nut crust.

Seeing as her mother works as a pastry chef, my VARC co-president Katie has easy access to a large number of mini tart pans, hence our decision to include mini quiches and dessert tarts on the menu. After grocery shopping tomorrow with money from VegFund (one of my all-time favorite vegan organizations), I’ll spend the vast majority of Friday and Saturday in the Ferry Kitchen, whipping up gourmet vegan appetizers for about 100 people. Wish me luck!

Until next time, Ali.

Vegan MoFo #22: Curried Coconut Quinoa Stuffed Squash and Garlickly Black Beans, Kale, & Roasted Tomatoes

vegan mofo 2013

Last night, I happily served as Ferry Dinner Cook to fill in for my housemate Rocky, who found herself stuck in the Atlanta airport after journeying to Alabama for a weekend wedding. I normally choose what to cook for Ferry Dinner based upon the veggies that are in greatest abundance in our kitchen, and/or upon the veggies that no Ferry member seems particularly enthusiastic about eating on their own—last night’s dinner decision process proved no different.

dinner (11)

With an influx of leafy greens and heirloom tomatoes, as well as a large pile of acorn and carnival squashes that no one had touched since last week, my housemate Andrew and I whipped up two hearty, comforting, and complexly flavored dishes for the Ferry team.

The first dish—curried coconut quinoa with dried apricots and almonds stuffed inside baked squash halves—drew inspiration from this recipe on Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes. Succulent, fragrant, well spiced, and multi-textured, the stuffed squash provided a quintessential autumn dish. However, acorn and carnival squashes always taste rather bland to me, and indeed did last night, as well. I’ll stick to my butternuts and kabochas from now on.

dinner (6)

The second dish, however—a stew of heirloom tomatoes roasted with rosemary and marjoram, home-simmered black beans, and garlicky sautéed greens—offered a multiplicity of flavor to counter the blah-ness of the squashes. I tend to become a bit verklempt over the unparalleled beauty of heirloom tomatoes (especially those pictured below which harbor a rainbow of hues), so this dish verily excited me. Paired with tender greens and creamy black beans, the roasted heirlooms constituted a winning dish, the recipe for which I’ve provided below.

dinner (4)

Garlicky Black Beans, Kale, and Herb-Roasted Tomatoes

Serves 4.

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups dried black beans
2 bay leaves
4 large heirloom tomatoes, halved then cut into thirds
1/4 cup fresh rosemary
Generous sprinkling of dried marjoram
Drizzle of olive oil, plus oil for sauteeing
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb mixed leafy greens

Soak the black beans in enough water to cover for 8 hours or overnight. Drain and rinse the beans, then place in a pot with the bay leaves, cover with fresh water, set over high heat, bring to a boil, then simmer for 60-90 minutes. Drain the beans and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425°F.

Meanwhile, place the heirloom tomatoes, rosemary, and marjoram in a single layer in a glass baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20-30 minutes, or until very tender. Set aside.

Heat the rest of the oil in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Saute the garlic for 1-2 minutes, then add the greens and cook for 5-10 minutes or until tender.

In a large pot, combine the beans, tomatoes, and greens. Serve.

Recipe submitted to Waste Not Want Not Wednesdays, Allergy-Free Wednesdays, Healthy Vegan Fridays, and Wellness Weekend.

dinner (8)

Until next time, Ali.